Well since SAJ seems to be a source for some good ideas, I am doing another post based on one of his questions. He was curious about my set up and how I configure things for photos of minis. After the jump some photos of my set up and an explanation of how and why it is set up that way.
Well there it is. I should start out by saying that the picture makes the room look much darker than it is. It is actually fairly well lit. On to the info part of this. Behind the camera is the miniature I am shooting. There are three lights, a neutral background, a diffusion material, and a tri-pod. Besides the camera probably the most important things for taking the shots.
Now, just as with my "Whats in the bottle?" post I should start this by stating that I am in no way an expert on photography or in taking pictures of miniatures. This is just what I have learned or experienced.
The type of bulb can also make a difference. I would not spend the money on high quality daylight bulbs unless you are really serious. You can find several inexpensive substitutes at your local mega store or home store. If you just have plain bulbs, you will just need to make a few adjustments in Picasa, Photoshop, or whatever you use.
Lets talk diffusion material. I am not sure what the technical description is for what diffusion material does. I believe it affects the direction that light hits the subject. The need for it comes from the fact that when you take a photo of a mini with out it, it can alter the way the mini looks. It will affect how the camera perceives the light that is reflected off of it, and that can cause hardening of shading, altering of color, as well as unwelcome emphasis on shaded or highlighted areas.
Why do I need a tripod? Well no matter how much of a Cool Hand Luke you think you are, you just can not hold the camera steady enough to take a quality picture. The tripod goes hand and hand with the timer on your camera (if you don't have one I am not sure what to tell you). The timer assures you are not touching the camera when it takes the shot, and helps to maintain a steady focus. The tripod does the same. The combination alone can make all the difference in pictures.
There are many opinions out there about a background when shooting your pictures. You know what they say about opinions...hmm. Mine is no difference. A neutral background will not only help you to fix any color problems your lights cause, but it also helps the camera focus as there is less in the background to affect it. There are many different things you can use. I have taken photos with a blue background, grey, or even a gradient sheet that transitions from white to blue. You will most likely have to experiment with them to see what gives you the best results.
So that is my set-up. I hope it helps you with your pictures.